Heady praise from Hamilton for ‘shining star’ Ocon

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton congratulates Esteban Ocon in Hungary. Hungary August 2021

Lewis Hamilton congratulates Esteban Ocon on becoming Formula 1's 111th race winner, taking the chequered flag at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hungary August 2021

Lewis Hamilton was full of praise for Esteban Ocon after the Alpine driver’s first F1 win, calling him a “shining star” who deserves to be a grand prix winner.

Ocon pulled off one of the biggest surprises of 2021, racing his Alpine to first place at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Frenchman started eighth on the grid, avoiding the opening lap carnage, and found himself leading ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Despite pressure from the four-time World Champion, Ocon did not put a wheel wrong and raced to the victory, his first in Formula 1.

Hamilton has applauded Formula 1’s 111th grand prix winner.

“He’s been a shining star for some time now so it’s been a long time coming,” said the reigning World Champion.

“I’m really, really happy for him.”

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Hamilton is a former team-mate of Ocon’s with the Frenchman taking up the role of Mercedes’ reserve driver in 2019 after he was dropped by Force India, now Aston Martin.

Left without a race seat and not yet ready to cut ties with Mercedes, he spent a year on the sideline before saying goodbye to Mercedes and heading to Renault, now known as Alpine.

Hamilton finished the grand prix second behind Ocon, elevated up the order after the disqualification of Vettel for a fuel infringement.

The Mercedes driver was left to rue what could have been had the race been a few laps longer, after Ocon’s team-mate Fernando Alonso halted his charge towards the front with a brilliant defensive drive.

Hamilton added: “Maybe a couple of laps more we could have a bit of a duel.

“But I’m actually glad that we didn’t have any more laps because this is very much needed in his journey, this shows to everyone out there his potential.

“This really speaks volumes.”

Prior to the Budapest race, Ocon’s best result for 2021 had been his seventh place at the Portuguese GP with the driver also recording four P9s.

He is up to tenth place in the Drivers’ Championship with 39 points, one ahead of his team-mate.